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Wednesday, 08 October 2014 14:06

Fishing for tacos

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Wednesday.


Our last day in Vancouver.
We pack our sundries, clean our borrowed apartment, and spend one last morning sipping coffee at seagull height over English Bay.
Overnight, cargo ships have steamed off, and others come to replace them at anchor.
Along the people paths, flocks of joggers disrupt quiet couples who meander at a slower pace. A man on a unicycle rides against the flow of those on two wheels, and a lineup begins to form as the crépe and lemonade stand opens for business.
The tide is out, leaving the beach dotted with tide pools, and exposing rocks that we know, from earlier explorations, are occupied from below by tiny crustaceans. Cooked whole, these one-inch crabs would barely garnish a plate. It would take a thousand of their claws to make a mouthful of salad.
When we’ve spent all the time we have to linger, we descend to the parking garage and drive away from our home of three days.
We’re feeling breakfasty this morning, and hunger soon brings us to Sophie’s Cosmic Cafe in Kitsilano, a retro diner, walls festooned with “garage sale decor.”
Sunny side with spicy lamb sausage for Chef husband. French toast with seasonal berries for me. Disappointment when it’s discovered they’ve sold out of their proprietary hot sauce. Ordinarily, we buy a six-pack.
From here, we trundle up to the Capilano Suspension Bridge, which is overpopulated with late-season tourists today, making it difficult to stop and look. But, with its Squirrel’s-Eye-View boardwalk in the forest canopy, it still manages to invoke a sense that Ewoks might, at any moment, jump out and hit us with sticks.
Do Ewoks, I wonder to myself, roast people on spits? Or am I confusing them with some other variety of man-eating teddy bear?
With so little time left in Vancouver before heading east and home, we leave the trees and turn to Twitter for help tracking down the last stop on our food-finding mission.
So far, we’ve collected recipe notes for sunset-inspired fruit compoté, hot and sour soup, bacon brioché, kobe meatballs and carpaccio with polenta. At the aquarium, we learned more than we knew before about sustainable fisheries, and the impact our choices make on the world’s oceans.
Today, we will make an ocean-wise choice by following a Tweet to the current location of TacoFino, one of two taco trucks that serve Baja-style street food, lately reviewed in the Globe & Mail.
The Blue Truck is downtown at Burrard and Dunsmuir, and once we squeeze into an unlikely parking spot, we order ling cod soft tacos, served with shredded cabbage and salsa fresca.
It’s a sunny day and we eat outside, ignoring a moochy flock seagulls as we lean over our laps and make yummy sounds.
Five minutes later, we’re full and happy and plotting the hijacking of the big blue truck. It doesn’t seem practical, no matter how we look at it, so instead we add recipe notes to our growing list, return to our car, and head in the direction of home.

Ling Cod Tacos

1 1/4 pounds ling cod, cut into 1-inch fingers
1/2 cup flour seasoned with 1/2 teaspoon paprika, 1 teaspoon salt
1 cup flour
1 tsp baking soda
1 tsp baking powder
355ml can beer
Vegetable oil for frying
kosher salt
8 small flour tortillas
2 cups shredded cabbage
tartar sauce or chipotle mayo
Valentina hot sauce

SALSA FRESCA
2 medium tomatoes, chopped
1/4 cup chopped red pepper
1/2 finely chopped jalapeno
4 sprigs cilantro, chopped
juice of 1/2 lime
2 tbs olive oil
kosher salt to taste

Toss together ingredients for salsa fresca. Set aside.
Dust fish with seasoned flour. Whisk together flour, baking soda, baking powder and beer.
Heat two inches of oil to 375F in a deep pot. Dredge fish into batter and slowly release into oil, a few pieces at a time. Fry until cooked through and golden, about 3 minutes. Drain on paper towels and sprinkle with kosher salt.
Warm tortillas. Spread with tartar sauce or chipotle mayo. Stuff with fish, cabbage and salsa. Drizzle with hot sauce.

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